Acts 29 expel Driscoll
In August 2014 the leaders of Acts 29 Church Planting Network separated themselves from the ministry of Pastor Mark Driscoll because of his ungodly conduct.
The Board of Acts 29 Church Planting network posted this message.
‘It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.’
A letter addressed to Mark explains the reason for Driscoll’s expulsion. ‘Over the past three years, our board and network [Acts 29] have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behaviour… Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction…’
Why so long?
The question that arises is why it took the board of Acts 29 so long to separate from Driscoll, for they are the church leaders who have worked closely with Driscoll for many years, and undoubtedly know all about his ministry. Indeed, for years they have been content to be associated with Driscoll’s international reputation and church planting philosophy to build the ministry of Acts 29. Even today, Acts 29 website has reference to 30 articles about Driscoll’s influence and ministry.
Only when Mark Driscoll’s shameful conduct became public knowledge did the leaders of Acts 29 take action to separate themselves from the opprobrium that now surrounds his disgraced ministry. Their motivation, it seems, is to protect their own ministry from the tarnished Driscoll brand. And so we must ask the obvious question, why did they not act sooner? For years they have known about Driscoll’s outrageous behaviour, yet they chose not only to support him but also to profit from his massive public image. For years they were content to condone his false teaching, to promote his outrageous books, to attend his conferences, to support his Resurgence, and to propagate his philosophy of church planting through the Acts 29 Network.
Mark Driscoll: Is he qualified to lead?
The silence of Acts 29 leaders stand condemned by the witness of Cathy Mickels, who in January 2009, wrote a memo to the leaders of The Gospel Coalition, expressing her deep concern over the ministry of Pastor Mark Driscoll, which she described as characterized by ‘the trivialization of Scripture, crudeness, foolish talk and vulgarity’.
In her memo Mickels draws attention pastor John MacArthur’s comments on Driscoll’s book, Confessions of a Reformission Rev (2006): ‘There are statements in that book that are so sexually explicit and unnecessary, and purely gratuitous humour at the basest kind of level; I saw a video from a service in the church in January in which comments were made from his pulpit, which were then put on the website, which again, were sexually explicit and gratuitous and unnecessary…’
Mickels documents the way Driscoll mocks Scripture. She writes: ‘In Genesis 3, Satan’s first line of attack against mankind was to undermine and call into question the authority of God’s Word. Yet, it is this very book of the Bible that hits a funny bone for Mark Driscoll. According to Mark, this is where all “good comedy begins”. First of all, in the story of Adam and Eve, Driscoll throws out a suggestive, sensual idea about Eve that I guess Mark thinks will amuse his male audience. He says “God creates a perfect woman who is beautiful, sinless, and naked – the same kind of woman every guy ever since has been looking for.” (Radical Reformission, p28).’
‘Driscoll sets the stage for more mocking of Scripture by describing the Old Testament as “a redneck hillbilly comedy”. He finds humour in Jacob, Aaron, Moses, Job, Jeremiah, and Noah… These attacks on Scripture are rooted in deceit and falsehood. God’s Word says we are to pursue holiness and serve Him acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Where is the holiness? Where is the dignity? Where is the fear of God? Hence, the groundwork has now been laid for others to come along presenting their own humorous ideas of other passages of Scripture. Once this door is allowed to be opened, there is no end in sight.’
Mickels continues: ‘The mind is the battleground, but in the case of Mark Driscoll, instead of protecting the mind against the crudity and vulgarity of the world, he intentionally uses it. For example, Driscoll appears to have discovered early on that sex sells and that he could use it to draw a crowd… As I implied at the beginning of this memo, some of the information and material advocated by Mark Driscoll is so tawdry and immoral that I do not even feel comfortable detailing it in this memo.’
Cathy Mickels concludes her memo: ‘With all due respect to the men who are leading the Gospel Coalition, it is a mockery of the Christian faith to have Mark Driscoll speak on the topic of ‘Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth’… What comes out of the mouth of Mark Driscoll, and how he handles Scripture is not only shameful, but also an embarrassment to the Body of Christ… It is the opinion of this writer that there needs to be a close examination of this ministry. Mark Driscoll is undermining biblical and historical Christianity, and lacks the wisdom, discernment and maturity to lead. If the church cannot see it, we are further down the downgrade than we think.’
Despite clear evidence of the ungodly nature of Driscoll’s ministry in 2009, church leaders have closely supported his ministry, even encouraging him. And so in 2011, Driscoll was invited by evangelical church leaders in the UK to address the London Men’s Convention in the Royal Albert Hall, and to promote his Acts 29 Church Planting Network in a number of seminars across the UK. Driscoll wrote: ‘I’ve been excited to see the growth of the Acts 29 church-planting movement into Great Britain and Western Europe under the direction of my friend Steve Timmis.’
All the evidence presented in Mickels’ memo, dated January 2009, has been in the public arena for years, yet the church leaders associated with the Acts 29 enterprise were more than happy to work alongside Mark Driscoll and his trivialization of Scripture, crudeness, foolish talk and vulgarity, to further the Network. And now in August 2014, they have expelled Driscoll from membership of Acts 29 because they are concerned that their association with him discredits the Network, not because they believe there is anything wrong with Driscoll’s disgraceful use of Scripture and false teaching. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that they are jumping off the sinking Driscoll ship in the hope of saving their own ministries.
You can learn more about Mark Driscoll’s ministry in the book, The New Calvinists (2014), published by The Wakeman Trust and Belmont House Publishing. The book is available from belmonthousebooks.com/